MS Dhoni's bat sponsorship is up for the grabs and the Indian captain is not settling anything less than Rs 8 crore, if sources are to be believed.

According industry insiders, three companies have already lined up to sign the Indian captain and these proposed sponsors may have to shell out more if they sign him for apparel and other merchandising deals.

It is emerging that Dhoni may enter some sort of contract, where he will be paid royalty for their sale of products.

"It's going to be a landmark deal for sure," a source close to the development told TOI on Sunday. He also added that the deal would be closed before the series against Australia and Dhoni would be seen with a new bat sponsor during the one-day series at home.

In Dhoni's last outing on the field against the Rajasthan Royals in the Champions League T20 semifinal in Jaipur, he didn't have a sponsor on his bat.

TOI spoke to some of the sponsors, who were approached informally for the sponsorship deals, but they turned it down saying that "it's too expensive". So far, Dhoni has 23 brands and has occasionally promoted bat companies logos, who have been providing bats to the Indian captain.

Sources also said none of the bat manufacturers provide full time sponsorship to these cricketers these days because of their high prices. "These manufacturers can only provide Rs 50 to 60 lakh per year when other sponsors offer more," a source said.

The general rate for bat sponsorship has been between Rs 1.5 to Rs 2.5 crore per year and can go up to Rs 4.5 to Rs 5.5 cr for top cricketers.

Incidentally, this is not the first time that a cricketer would be getting royalty after endorsing a brand. Sachin Tendulkar gets a royalty bonus from his bat and apparel manufacturer. For those who are not a part of the team for more than six months, their sponsorship gets terminated, another source pointed out.

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Keywords: MS Dhoni, Indian captain, companies, sponsors, TOI, Rajasthan Royals, Champions League T20 , cricketers , Sachin Tendulkar,cricket news,sports news